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Last updated: February 17. 2013 9:39AM - 73 Views

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The West Nile Virus season this year set a record for the highest number of positive samples in the state‚??s history and led to two deaths, including a retired Wilkes-Barre police officer.


The disease had an impact statewide: 25 human positives, two human deaths, 3,409 infected mosquito samples and a first positive test occurring May 3, the earliest ever detection here.


Health officials said the season is likely over with a frost expected to cover most of the state today and Saturday.


Amanda Witman, a Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman, said ‚??We were hit very hard this year. The numbers speak for themselves.‚?Ě


She said the cold temperatures ‚??are a big help in eradicating the mosquito population (which carry the virus and can spread it to humans).‚?Ě


The lack of cold weather last winter and a warmer than usual spring led to the boom in mosquito populations and the outbreak of the virus.


The old record for positives statewide was 2,282, set in 2003. That was surpassed in August. Typically, Witman said, a positive test doesn‚??t register until mid-June.


This year it came in Berks County on May 3, an early indication that it might be a bad year.


Only 15 counties of the state‚??s 67 didn‚??t register a West Nile positive this year. Several in the state‚??s northeast region, including Wyoming, Wayne, Susquehanna, Pike, Bradford and Sullivan, were among them.


The high numbers were not just a Pennsylvania issue. Many states were dealing with unusually high positives, including more than 169 deaths nationwide.


Texas, the hardest hit state, had 54 deaths and more than 1,500 people there contracted the virus this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


The CDC reported that 4,713 human West Nile virus infections have been reported to them through Tuesday.


Two people died in the Pennsylvania, including Joseph Krawetz, 82, of Wilkes-Barre, in August, and an unnamed Philadelphia man in September.


Since data was first collected on the disease in 2000, 27 people have died statewide from the virus. Nine died in both 2002 and 2003 and two died in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2012.


Witman said the state will not do anything out of the ordinary over the winter to combat mosquito populations.


‚??We‚??ll let Mother Nature take its course and see what kind of cards we‚??re dealt next spring,‚?Ě she said.


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